The Maltese is a small dog breed, with a white silky and straight coat. Despite the fact that is a small dog in the category of miniature breeds, it is a dog capable of doing a lot of exercise. It is highly recommended as a companion animal.
There have been disagreements because of the uncertain origins of this breed. Charles Darwin set this breed origin in 6.000BC, even though there was found a sculpture of this kind of dog 2.000 years before that date. It was supposed to be a kid’s toy. The emperor Tiberius Claudius (10 BC – 54AD) had one of these dogs and is seems possible that these were taken to Asia by the romans. Finally, this breed got to China, where it is believed that the Maltese dogs contributed to the current Pekingese origin.
FCI Standard indicates it does not come from the Maltese archipelago. Due to this breed’s name is a derivation of the term màlat, which means shelter or harbor, and it is the root of many places names. In the list of dogs existing during the Renaissance, when Aristotle was alive (384 – 322 AD.), it is mentioned a small dog breed, which has the name of Melitaei Catelli. This dog was well-known in the ancient Rome and it was the women’s favorite partner.
The Maltese had been recognized as a FCI breed, under the patronage of Italy, at the annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland. The current FCI Standard is dated the 27th of November in 1989, and the last translation from Italian to English the 6th of April in 1998. The American Kennel Club acknowledged the breed in 1888 and its last Standard is from the 10th of March in 1964.
Heght bitch: 20~23 cm / Height male: 21~25 cm
Weight bitch: 3~4 kg / Weight male: 3~4 kg
They have a medium-sized head with a small forehead, and a round skull. The nose is black, and its eyes big, almond-shaped, dark brown colored, with black and watchful eyelids. Its snout is moderately long, fine, and gets narrow where it is closer to the nose. The ears are long, trailing and furry, and are placed really close to the head. When these dogs are older, there is a part of the snout which turns to brown-colored.
They have a long and soft fur, with an ivory color, with some slight chestnut markings. It is fine, soft, and smooth; very long and with no curls; and it starts from the nose to end in the rump. They do not have an interior coat.
The paws are short and straight. Its tail is elegant and is covered by a lot of fur; it is curved to the spine.
They weight between 3 and 4kg. They have a compact body, with a male height of 21–25 cm, and a female height of 20–23 cm.
The Maltese is intelligent, lively, friendly and loving. It is always watching what its beloved owners are doing. These dogs tend to learn easily.
It is a guardian dog, so it can be used as an alarm dog, —as the Chihuahua or the Yorkshire terrier—. These little dogs adapt well to places where there are old children or teenagers. They do not have problem with children, as long as they are treated with respect.
Because of its small size, they do not need much exercise. A daily walk will be enough, and this is a good habit for elderly. Taking them for a walk is also a good custom for making them sociable.
These dogs can be trained to do somersaults or to be on its hind paws for many minutes. Its playful nature will make them suitable for this kind of training.
This breed demands a lot of attention. It has to be brushed daily with a special brush, and an eye, lacrimal caruncles, and snout cleaning to prevent its ivory fur to become brown in these areas. The risk of having dark markings around the eyes may be a problem in this breed, which has to be taken care of.
The Maltese is a dog with a long fur, and so it has to be monitored to avoid skin illnesses and hair tangles. They need to be professionally groomed about once every month and a half. It is not recommended to wash him frequently (once every month should be enough).
They can feel lonely or abandoned if they are lonely for a long time, because to its bonding with their owners. It is important to spend some time with it.
Like other small dogs breeds, they usually have patellar luxation. Therefore, it is important to make sure the dog does not have overweight.
They are prone to suffer eyes irritation, and so creating conjunctivis. Because of the kind of coat they have, the tear staining is regular in this and reddish discolorations around the eye are easily provoked.
You can download the FCI (International Cinological Federation) standard at the following link: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/065g09-en.pdf